Headset review: Samsung WEP 500 mini earpiece

Noah Kravitz
 from Oakland, CA
Published: March 24, 2008

When it comes to Bluetooth earpieces, I think less is definitely more.  You'll never catch me walking around town with a Bluetooth clipped to my ear unless I'm actually talking on the thing.  No offense to you folks who keep your earpiece welded to your head, but that's just not me - I can't stand the look or feel of keeping a headset clamped to my ear.

That's why I like Samsung's WEP 500 Bluetooth earpiece so much.  Well, that's the first reason - it's tiny.  The WEP 500 is about the size of four quarters stacked atop one another, and weighs less than 9 grams.  It tucks into your ear, is hardly noticeable to passers-by, and is actually pretty comfortable to wear (so far as Bluetooth earpieces go, anyway).  Samsung packs two styles of earbuds - in two sizes each - with the headset, and I was able to find a pretty good fit that kept the unit snugly in place.

Dual microphones and noise-cancelling technology provide the basis for solid audio performance.  I had no problems pairing the WEP 500 to several phones I tried it with, and folks on the other end of my calls said they generally heard me loud and clear.  The 500's noise canceling worked quite well, cutting out almost all routine home and street noise during testing, and faring pretty well with louder environments.  Active volume control adjusts the level of what you're listening to depending on how loud of an environment you're actually in, and it worked pretty well for me.  I'd rank the 500 just a hair below the best-in-class Aliph Jawbone when it comes to noise canceling and overall audio quality in Bluetooth headsets.

Controls on the WEP 500 are simple and well-placed.  A multi-functional button handles call accept, reject, end, and transfer from handset.  Volume up and down buttons can also be used to mute calls.  And a single indicator light shines red or blue to convey information about call and charging status.

All in all I'd have to say the WEP 500 is one of my favorite Bluetooth earpieces currently available.  It's small, it's comfortable, and it sounds good.  What the 500 loses in terms of audio quality as compared to Jawbone it makes up for with its diminutive size and weight.  Hardcore users may well opt for Jawbone's slightly superior noise canceling capabilities, but I'll take the Samsung's stealthy size and hardly-there looks.

One minor complaint with the WEP 500 has to do with the charger.  While the desktop cradle is convenient, protective, and small enough, the AC adapter is kind of bulky to be coupled with such a tiny accessory.  How about a mini-USB jack built right into the earpiece itself for those who'd rather charge off of their laptops (or left their chargers behind on a business trip)?